German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, urged Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip but refused to meet Hamas officials, in the first German official visit to Gaza in almost four years.On Monday, in a press conference in Gaza City, Westerwelle said, “Today I am here because we want to give a clear statement from the government of Germany that we cannot forget about Gaza, and we will not.”

Westerwelle made clear that the Israeli blockade had to be lifted to allow the flow of vital imports and exports and to achieve good infrastructure in water, health, and electricity supply,’ and declared that the German government would continue extend help and support, emphasizing the importance of advancing in ‘purely humanitarian issues.’

He also stressed that with regard to Palestinian-Israeli conflict, German government’s position is the same as the position of the European Union, that is, ‘the two-state solution.”

While visiting the strip, Westermelle met Gaza businessmen and cultural activists. However, he refused to meet Hamas officials. He said he would not meet Hamas because its repeated refusal to renounce violence and to accept Israel’s right to exist.

Senior Hamas leader and legislator Kamal Shrafi slammed the move as ‘insulting’ and claimed that it was ‘completely wrong to come to Gaza and not meet with the legal government’s representative.’

Hamas, which has administered the Gaza Strip since June 2007, is subject to a Western diplomatic boycott.